MADISON -- The argument over whether to keep Governor Tony Evers' "Safer at Home" order in effect until May 26 has extended from the courtroom to the living room, with the public not waiting on a Supreme Court ruling to take action.
Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature asked the state Supreme Court on Tuesday to block an extension of the Democratic governor's stay-at-home order, the most partisan divide yet in the fight against the coronavirus. The lawsuit was expected after Gov. Tony Evers' health secretary ordered most nonessential businesses to remain closed until May 26. The original order had been scheduled to end Friday, April 24.
Through protests and press conferences, members of the public have wasted no time speaking out, and their reaction appears to fall along party lines.
While attorneys write legal briefs and wait for the Wisconsin Supreme Court to weigh in on whether "Safer at Home" exceeds the Wisconsin Department of Health Services' authority, politicians are making their case on the airwaves, and on social media.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who filed the lawsuit, told WTMJ radio the statues that allow the governor to take decisions during an emergency were not designed to let one person make all the decisions that affect many people.
"For whatever reason, Governor Evers has shunned the ability for any of us to be involved, and I think that's why you see people frustrated because it seems like he's only listening to a certain small segment, as opposed to everybody," said Vos.
Governor Evers called the legislative action shameful, sharing this message on social media:
The finger pointing has spilled out of the Capitol and onto street corners, where conservative groups have organized protests to reopen Wisconsin businesses. Like Republican leaders, they believe the economic fallout of the governor's order is just as dangerous as the disease.
"People are just so panicked that they are going to give up their rights, their constitutional rights," said Carie Kendrick. "This extension is unconstitutional."
Liberal groups have sided with the governor. In a press call Wednesday, faith leaders and union members called for an end to protests and lawsuits, and asked Wisconsinites to put people before profits.
"It such an issue that doesn't make sense that I really I didn't want to dignify it with a response," said Greg Lewis. "Somebody has to say something."
The state has until next week to respond to the suit, while the Wisconsin Supreme Court could rule as soon as the end of April.